The BioDAR Team
Meet the team
BioDAR is led by researchers from the University of Leeds, University of Exeter, and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. The project brings together ecologists and radar scientists to produce a step change in the way we monitor our environment, we believe that we benefit from taking a cross-discipline approach to important conservation issues.
Dr Christopher Hassall
Associate Professor of Animal Biology, University of Leeds
Chris Hassall leads the BioDAR Project. His research is motivated by a desire to develop an understanding of how the world works so that people and nature can live together for mutual benefit. This has involved working alongside researchers from many other disciplines, including health, engineering, physics, and the social sciences. In addition to BioDAR, he works on trying to create cities that are hospitable for people and wildlife, conserve valuable freshwater ecosystems around the world, and understand how people’s connectedness to nature can be enhanced and harnessed to better protect the planet. You can find out more about Chris’ research on his website and follow him on Twitter.
Dr Elizabeth Duncan
Lecturer, University of Leeds
My background is as an evolutionary and developmental biologist, with a focus on insect evolution. My early work involved examining the evolution of an early developmental pathway found in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and I became enamoured with invertebrate biology, in particular reproduction and development. As a research fellow I continued working in these areas and was also successful in obtaining my own funding to work in the area of phenotypic plasticity. All animals respond to their environment, but some have the ability to change their physiology, biochemistry, behaviour and reproduction in response to an environmental cue; a phenomenon known as phenotypic plasticity.
Dr Ryan Neely III
Lecturer, University of Leeds & National Centre for Atmospheric Science
From an early age Neely knew he enjoyed exploring the natural world with technology. Thus, his academic career has always been a blend of physics, engineering, computer modelling, travelling, and working outdoors. His early work involved research on the impact of elevated levels of CO2 on the primary production of pine trees. and the use of electromagnetic radiation to explore the natural world through Raman spectroscopy, but found his true passion through the use of lidar to explore clouds and aerosol. Neely is one of the founders of the BioDAR Project, along with Liz and Chris, bringing key radar expertise to the study of biodiversity.
Professor Bill Kunin
Professor of Ecology, University of Leeds
Bill Kunin is an ecologist whose research focusses on plants and pollinators – in particular wild bees and hoverflies. His research team uncovered some of the first strong evidence of bee declines in Europe, and he has been involved in helping design and set up a national pollinator monitoring scheme (PoMS). Bill is particularly interested in spatial population and biodiversity patterns, and helping develop new tools to monitor and model change in nature.
Dr Robin Lovelace
University Academic Fellow in Transport and Big Data, Leeds Institute for Transport Studies & Leeds Institute for Data Analytics
Robin Lovelace specialises in reproducible data science for transport planning. Recent roles include Lead Developer of the Propensity to Cycle Tool, Principle Investigator of the Cycling Infrastructure Prioritisation Toolkit and author of the open source software package stplanr. Follow Robin on Twitter.
Dr Jason Chapman
Associate Professor, University of Exeter
I am a movement ecologist interested in the evolution of animal migration strategies, and the population and community-level effects of these long-range movements. I study insects and birds to answer these questions, and use novel technologies including biological radars, weather radars, meteorological simulations, tethered flight techniques and genomic approaches to characterize their migration ecology. You can find out more at my institutional page and follow me on Twitter.
Dr Maryna Lukach
Radar and Weather Data Scientist, National Centre for Atmospheric Science
Maryna has extensive experience working with weather radar data during her time at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI) in 2011 – 2018 and obtained her PhD degree at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2016. Maryna’s doctoral research was focused on theoretical and applied aspects of the multivariate generalised rational interval interpolation with a direct application to the field of weather radar data analysis. Maryna is working to develop novel classification algorithms to interpret biodiversity signals in radar data.
PhD Student in Radar Meteorology, University of Leeds
Freya Addison is a radar PhD student studying clouds and collocation for multi-instrument campaigns. Although Freya is an atmospheric scientist rather than a biologist, she has a keen interest in bees and the BioDAR project. In fact, Freya already has experience photographing bees using cloud imaging probes.
PhD Student in Pollinator Monitoring and Conservation, University of Leeds
Tom Dally is an ecology PhD student with a passion for insects. His research focuses on the methods we use to monitor insect populations, specifically insect pollinators like bees and hoverflies. He is especially interested in how we can apply novel technologies, like acoustics and radar, to long-term national insect monitoring, and is a keen participant in the BioDAR project.
Research Assistant, National Centre for Atmospheric Science
I’m an interdisciplinary conservation scientist with a passion for research that merges traditional field skills with novel remote-sensing technologies. My MSc thesis explored the relationships between morphological and dual-polarisation radar-derived observations of nocturnal macro-moth communities; in October 2021, I’ll commence a PhD in radar entomology alongside BioDAR and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. My interests include quantitative ecology, radar meteorology, insect morphometrics, and biogeography.
Dr Lindsay Bennett
Radar Instrument Scientist, National Centre for Atmospheric Science
I am a Radar Instrument Scientist for the Atmospheric Measurement and Observation Facility (AMOF), part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS). I am responsible for the mobile X-band radar, the first of its kind in the UK. The radar is used to examine the microphysics and dynamics of convective clouds, in particular improving our understanding of the key processes that control rainfall development and intensity.
Dr Mansi Mungee
Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Leeds
I am a Research Fellow in a large, multi-collaborative project “Drivers and Repercussions of UK Insect Declines” or DRUID, to collate and synthesize some of the best available datasets on insect declines from across the country, and determine spatio-temporal patterns using multiple currencies of diversity such as richness, biomass, abundance, etc. My background is in computational trait extraction and modelling, as well as insect biogeography (specifically of Himalayan moths).